SENEGAL: African Aid Group Wins Hilton Prize For Campaigning Against Female Circumcision
Tostan, founded by American Molly Melching in 1991, was chosen for the highest humanitarian prize of $1.5 million for its novel approach in conveying the message that helped change a deep-rooted practice of female genital cutting in Muslim communities of West Africa.
Lauding Melching's efforts in effecting the change among the poorest people of Senegal, juror Amartya Sen, a Nobel Prize-winning economist said: "She has put new thought into the discussion about how you get a critical proportion of the population to agree and act in unison, to be an example to others."
There were about 250 nominees for the prize this year.
Tostan's grass root approach draws from traditional songs and dances to convey the message to the poorest women living in countryside. The group with all African staff about 400 also conducts community empowerment programs in Senegal and neighboring countries using the same techniques.
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation sponsors the highest humanitarian prize.
AUTHOR: Susheela Hedge
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